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Local police accused the 17-year-old Kacper Lubiewski of harming the environment. Reason? He spoke through a megaphone at a Youth Climate Strike protest, advocating for EU climate targets.

The event took place on December 9. Law enforcement officers showed up at the protest site about 15 minutes before anyone else. They were walking among the protesters and reminding them to keep their distance. Before Kacper Lubiewski, the first speaker, could even finish his appeal, the police took him aside and intervened. Because they suspected he was a minor, they asked him to identify his guardian. Meanwhile, when other activists wanted to speak through the megaphone, the police used their loudspeakers to drown them out with a pandemic alert message.

Police drowning out noise pollution?

Accusing Kacper of allegedly violating environmental protection laws by speaking through a megaphone, in January, the police had filed a motion to the Family Court to punish him. Besides the fact that it was precisely environmental protection the young activist was advocating for, the protest took place at a location generally considered to be a site of various protests, rallies, and public celebrations. It is a concrete plaza in the city center, placed between residential buildings, the local philharmonic, and a library. Moreover, it is surrounded by a noisy cobbled street, and the only green space directly adjacent to the protest site is the evenly trimmed lawn next to a musical fountain.

A special children’s advocate appointed by the court investigated the case

After the local police filed a motion for punishment with the Family Court, a special court-appointed children’s advocate had to do run a background on Kacper and examine whether the boy had been demoralized (the police claim he has). With a 5.66 GPA, Kacper is an exceptionally gifted student. He has participated in multiple science contests, holds a National Children's Benefit Fund scholarship, and a scholarship for the most gifted students of the Opole Province. No wonder that the special advocate couldn’t find any signs of demoralization.

- My lawyer informed me that the court has decided to proceed with my case regarding the use of a megaphone during the Walk for the Future on December 9, 2020 - Kacper wrote yesterday on his Facebook page. –The real harassment of climate activists, including myself, has only just begun. Even though I still think that any sort of actual punishment on my end is rather unlikely, the situation, as it is today, makes me start to doubt it. Everyone predicted an imminent end to the case, and yet it goes on. It’s an endless spiral of absurdity and ridicule that the state, police, and other public institutions are putting themselves through- he added.

Commenting on the case, Jacek Różycki, Kacper’s lawyer, said: - The case was registered in court under a reference number denoting demoralization of a minor or suspicion of committing a criminal offense. However, there still exists a possibility that the court will refuse to initiate a proceeding in a closed session. If the court decides otherwise, it will set a date for a hearing the disputing parties and the prosecutor will have to attend. As to whether Kacper committed a criminal act at all, it is important to consider whether the protest was legal in the first place. There are quite a few court decisions clearly specifying the cases and ranks of the regulations when one’s right to assembly can be limited.

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